In Guatemala, the majestic ancient Mayan city of Tikal was inhabited for nearly 2,000 years (from 800 B.C. to 900 A.D.). At the height of its glory, Tikal occupied more than 72 square miles and is believed to have had more than 100,000 residents. Included among the many amazing achievements of the ancient Mayans of Tikal is the construction of the largest stone pyramid in Central America – a pyramid that is still standing proudly today. In the twenty-first century, Guatemala is America’s third most popular choice for international adoptions. In 2002, Americans adopted 2,219 children from Guatemala. Mayan Indians comprise about 55 percent of the Guatemalan population, with Latinos (mostly of mixed Hispanic and Mayan origin) making up the rest of the population.
International adoption in Guatemala arose after the end of their dreadful 36-year civil war (the civil war in Guatemala officially ended in 1996). After claims arose of babies being kidnapped and sold to adoption agencies, many countries (including the U.S.) began mandating that DNA tests be performed to ensure that the woman relinquishing the baby for adoption was in fact the birthmother. All international adoptions in Guatemala occur through private attorneys or through orphanages, since there are no state-run social service programs.
Credits: The International Adoption Guidebook, © Mary M. Strickert
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